Amazon engineer lets Twitch play the stock market with $50000 real money

Twitch is currently playing the stock market

TimeOdd Stories - Twitch

Most people would not want a bunch of random strangers playing around with their money on the stock market, but that is exactly what Mike Roberts is doing through Twitch, Inc.’s popular live streaming platform for gamers.

Roberts is a Seattle-based software engineer at Amazon, and he decided to put up $50,000 of his own money for Twitch users to play around with on the stock market. Twitch has a long tradition of “Twitch Plays” streams, where users are able to control a game by typing commands into chat, and Roberts’ StockStream follows this same formula.

“I’d seen the idea posted around on some subreddits [on], so just decided to build it,” Roberts told Polygon. “I just read peoples buy/sell commands from the chat window, do a simple counting of each vote, take the top vote and place that trade. That part of the system was actually easy to build — the tough part was building the UI and getting the system to a stable point where it was ready [for] long term usage.”

Probably the best known collaborative game experience on Twitch was Twitch Plays Pokemon, which almost always descended into pure chaos because the game executed the first command it saw when it checked for an input every few seconds. This meant that the entire chat room would shout different commands over and over as they tried to get the game to do what they wanted. Later Twitch Plays games used a voting system, with the game executing the top voted commands.

While some users have complained that these systems are not as fun, they keep the games more structured and give the chat a better chance at actually accomplishing something, which is why Roberts’ StockStream uses this system.

Twitch users have already placed thousands of votes on StockStream to control Roberts’ money, but so far his value has only fluctuated by less than $50 in both directions. Roberts admitted that he was a bit worried about what would happen when he put his money in the hands of Twitch users, but he said that he is already feeling more confident.

“Before today, I was a bit skeptical — thought I might lose money quickly, but things seem OK,” Roberts said. “Now that a lot of the money is diversified, the swings in value should start getting bigger. I ran some simulations with some made-up data, and calculated that it would last at least a couple months. But now that there are so many people using it, I’m getting lots of Robinhood referrals, so the account could start getting bigger and bigger.”

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Written by TimeOdd

TimeOdd is a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.



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